gun horror | 

Innocent mechanic was shot by 'fireball' hit team in Tallaght over €30k debt he didn't owe

The victim has been named locally as hardworking mechanic Tommy McDonnell.

Tommy McDonnell

Patrick O'Connell

THIS IS the innocent father-of-five gunned down at work by a crime gang - after they targeted him over a €30,000 debt he doesn't even owe.

Hardworking mechanic Tommy McDonnell from Whitestown, Tallaght was recovering in hospital yesterday after being shot in the neck by cowardly gunmen as he worked on a car at his rented garage.

Gardaí believe the gang targeted Tommy, who has no involvement in crime, because an individual known to him fled the country after gambling away a five-figure-sum owned by the criminals.

Tommy's landlord Denis Gallagher yesterday told the Sunday World how he was alerted to Friday's shooting in his yard at Cookstown Cottages after seeing a van reversing at speed out the front gates.

"I knew something wasn't right because there is plenty of space in the yard to turn a van," he said.

"So, I went out to check and next thing I heard Tommy call out: 'Denis, I've been shot'.

"And I could see a trail of blood coming from the car he'd been working on into the office.

"He had managed to get himself into the seat in the office.

"As far as I could tell, he had been shot in the neck and the chest.

Witness Dennis Gallagher Pic Gary Ashe

"There was blood - you could see the blood on the front of him and blood coming from a hole in his neck.

"I asked him: 'Where have you been shot Tommy?'

"And he said: 'I've been shot in the neck'.

"But it was obvious he'd been shot in chest as well.

"I said: 'Did you call an ambulance?'

"And he said: "Yeah, but will you call them now again?'

"So, I called an ambulance and the guards came up as well.

CCTV shows getaway car being burned out - one masked man caught up in the blaze

"The ambulance took him away then."

Denis said the shooting had occurred between 10.30 and 11am.

Its calculated nature became fully clear as gardaí reviewed the CCTV on the premises' system before removing the hard drive as evidence later on Friday.

"They came in a van through the front gate into the yard," Denis recalled.

"When I looked at the screen, with the guards after, you could see them drive in in the black van.

"I don't know what make it was. But then the passenger got out. He was wearing a balaclava and he was the fella with the gun.

"He went in (to the garage) and he shot Tommy. He was only in there a minute.

"I'd say Tommy probably had words with him first and then he shot him.

"I didn't hear the gunshot. You could see it was a handgun in the footage, but the guards said he might have had a silencer on it.

"Then you could see him (the gunman) rush back out and get back into the van.

"And they shot across the road into Fettercairn where the first car was burnt out."

Asked how Tommy was doing in hospital, Denis said: "I was talking to his wife this morning and she said he's improved a lot.

CCTV shows getaway car being burned out

"But they won't know what damage has been done until later today.

"Tommy is a good, hard worker and a great mechanic.

"He's been renting that garage off me for 15 years and there has never ever been a problem.

"I couldn't believe this happened. I still can't. I'm shocked."

Shortly after the shooting, Dublin Fire Brigade was called to nearby location - Kilcarrig Close - where a small, dark van had been set alight.

A weapon, believed to be a shotgun, was found in the vehicle, which is suspected of having been used to flee from the scene in Cookstown.

Gardaí then received reports of two masked men fleeing the scene and that a man who set fire to the van also accidentally set himself alight.

These suspects are then believed to have driven together in a black hatchback from Tallaght to Rathcoole, also in west Dublin, where it arrived at the Rathmill Glen estate at around 12.30pm.

In footage widely shared on social media, the passenger in the car makes his escape to another vehicle.

Meanwhile, in his disoriented state, the driver of the dark car sets fire to the getaway vehicle and is engulfed in the explosion that ensues.

The suspect is then seen to run to a dark car, which he mistakenly thinks is another getaway car, before hopping into the correct vehicle - the third known car used in the commission of the crime.

Gardai at the scene of the shooting (Brian Lawless/PA)

Both men flee in a small, silver hatchback car, which gardaí believe may have been parked in the estate up to 24 hours before the attempted hit.

Tommy's condition in Tallaght University Hospital was yesterday described as "stable" as officers appealed for information about three crime scenes linked to the attempted murder.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: "Gardaí are appealing for anyone with information in relation to this incident to come forward.

"Gardaí are particularly appealing to anyone who was on Cookstown Road, Tallaght this morning between 11.45am and 12.15pm to come forward.

"Gardaí are also appealing for information in relation to the following vehicles which are believed to have been involved in the incident; • A small, dark van which was discovered on fire in Kilcarrig Close, Tallaght this afternoon at approximately 12.15pm.

• A small, black car that was discovered partially burnt in Rathmill Glen, Rathcoole a short time later.

• And a small, silver hatchback car may have been parked in Rathmill Glen, Rathcoole over the past 24 hours.

"Anyone who may have information in relation to these vehicles is asked to contact investigating Gardaí.

"Anyone who may have camera footage of these areas over the past 24 hours (including dash-cam and mobile phone footage) is asked to make it available to investigating Gardaí.

"Anyone with any information in relation to this matter should contact Tallaght Garda Station on 01 666 6000, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any Garda station.

"No arrests have been made at this time and investigations are ongoing."

Today's Headlines

More Irish Crime

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices